Communism has been tried and tested and found severely wanting. But so has libertarianism:
And he may even say, as many of his and Mises’s supporters do, that Reagan and Thatcher and Pinochet and 100 others “didn’t do it right.” The problem with this is that it is precisely the same as the defense of Marx: “Stalin (or Reagan) was not a good test of my theory…” But they may be the best test the theories can sustain. Hayek would be horrified by Reagan, and Marx would be mortified by Stalin. But both seem to end in the same place. Both Marx and Mises promised a “withering away of the state”; both delivered states of enormous power, expense, and tyranny.
When the application of a theory always ends up the same way, we are entitled to think that is the only way it can end. Why do theories in application differ so much from their predicted results? Both Marx and Mises run up against the Law of Unintended Consequences. Since consequences are potentially infinite and intentions necessarily finite, this law is always operative. But when a theory is incomplete relative to the phenomenon it purports to describe, then the unintended consequences will always outweigh the intended ones. Usually, the system doubles back on itself to become its opposite. The moral of this story is you can only judge a theory that purports to describe human systems by seeing how it works on the ground.
There is another way: distributism
What is distributism?
According to Thomas Storck
distributism is nothing more than an economic system in which private property is well distributed, in which "as many people as possible" are in fact owners. Probably the most complete statement of distributism can be found in Hilaire Belloc's book, The Restoration of Property (1936). Note the title, The Restoration of Property. For the distributists argued that under capitalism property, certainly productive property, was the preserve of the rich, and that this gave them an influence and power in society far beyond what they had any right to. Yes, the formal right to private property exists for all under capitalism, but in practice it is restricted to the rich. A further feature of distributism that follows from this, is that in a distributist economy, the amassing of property will have limits placed on it. Distributive justice is distributism's key principle.
Under such a system, most people would be able to earn a living without having to rely on the use of the property of others to do so. Examples of people earning a living in this way would be farmers who own their own land and related machinery, plumbers who own their own tools, software developers who own their own computer, etc. The "co-operative" approach advances beyond this perspective to recognise that such property and equipment may be “co-owned” by local communities larger than a family, e.g. partners in a business.
There are many examples of the successful application of distributist theory in cooperative systems such as:
"[the] Mondragón Cooperative Corporation (MCC). Recently, the workers in the Fagor Appliance Factory in Mondragón, Spain, received an 8% cut in pay. This is not unusual in such hard economic times. What is unusual is that the workers voted themselves this pay cut. They could do this because the workers are also the owners of the firm."
Distributist also has concrete policy proposals, such as those formulated by Allan Carlson:
To break up, prudently, the great, politically-favored banks;
To sharply restrict the revolving door between regulated banks and corporations and the regulatory agencies;
To focus mortgage lending on small, locally controlled savings banks (such as the pre-1981 American “Savings and Loans”) and Credit Unions;
To replace welfare benefits with opportunities for property ownership and the creation of “children’s trusts.”
To limit direct and indirect mortgage subsidies – including tax benefits – to only one residence per family (disallowing them on “second” or vacation homes and investment properties);
To let real bankruptcy courts divvy up failed, albeit politically favored dinosaurs like General Motors;
To move toward a modest, uniform protective tariff;
To fill the prisons with white-collar criminals who have violated the public trust through fraud;
To redirect farm subsidies ($20 Billion annually in the USA) away from vast agri-businesses toward the encouragement of small, general purpose farms (with the quid pro quo that families receiving assistance would open their properties to visiting school children, and so on)
To loosen zoning laws and other restrictive covenants so as to allow greater use of family homes as places of work and production for market (e.g., telecommuting, professional offices)
To make credit available, at favored rates, to new family businesses and other micro-enterprises.
To impose a progressive corporate income tax on retail giants;
To improve the highway system; and
To focus tax relief on families with dependent children.
The grow your own movement together with the increased interest in self-sufficiency, subsidiarity, sustainability, local production, and local currencies all seem to fit very well into the distributist model.
Distributism is our best hope for the future.